DPME Evaluation of Land Restitution Programme and National Food and Nutrition Security Plan (NFNSP)

Agriculture, Land Reform and Rural Development

23 February 2024
Chairperson: Nkosi ZM Mandela (ANC)
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Meeting Summary


In a virtual meeting, the Department of Planning, Monitoring and Evaluation (DPME) briefed the Portfolio Committee on Agriculture, Land Reform and Rural Development on the impact evaluation of the Land Restitution Programme (LRP) and the implementation evaluation of the National Food and Security Nutrition Plan (NFNSP).

The Committee’s overriding criticism was a concern that land restitution efforts failed to improve the quality of lives of beneficiaries dealing with the reality of poverty, specifically considering the psychological and mental health impact on wellbeing. The Committee also raised questions about 90 percent of claimants choosing equitable redress over land restitution and worried it was not sustainable to impact poverty alleviation in the long term, especially considering how the financial awards to beneficiaries were spent, for example investing in business. Members suggested the focus on financial compensation as opposed to land restitution was because of negligible benefits and said equitable distribution did not address the skewed land ownership patterns in the country. It also did not address how policymakers should engage with non-satisfactory outcomes in relation to restitution.

Committee Members asked if the study engaged people who chose financial compensation and if these beneficiaries considered it to be as fair and just as an award of land and asked how policymakers could support the exercise of oversight for social cohesion in communities.

Members also asked about food malnutrition increasing in provinces over the past five years; asked why this was happening; and asked if a study was conducted to investigate the concern of escalating malnutrition. The Committee recommended greater collaboration to address food insecurity in South Africa, especially considering the instances of food wastage that were evidenced, especially at farms. 

Meeting report

Evaluation of the Land Restitution Programme (LRP) presentation

Mr Godfrey Mashamba, Deputy Director-General (DDG, Evaluation, Evidence, and Knowledge Systems), Department of Planning, Monitoring, and Evaluation (DPME)), took Members through the presentation. The evaluation was finalized in March 2023. The Land Restitution Evaluation Study (LRES) was commissioned as part of the National Evaluation Plan of 2014/15.

Findings: Overall

  • Restitution was found to break the cycle of poverty. Large magnitude transfers, whether in cash or land rights, caused sustained improvements to beneficiary wellbeing through improved per-capita income.
  • The programme has an economic case for equitable redress and the psychological effect of closure on past injustices.
  • There is opportunity for innovating by using small groups when dealing with beneficiary settlement options in order to overcome impediments associated with community fragmentation, especially in larger claims.
  • However, the evaluation reveals disappointing outcomes with regard to land restoration and development. Many beneficiaries opted for cash compensation instead of land restoration. Where land was returned, very little development took place


  • Land restitution programs positively impact household living standards and psychological wellbeing in South Africa. To ensure the success of land restitution programmes, policymakers should consider the social cohesion of the community and provide appropriate support.
  • The study recommends continuing to support land restitution programs to improve the living standards and wellbeing of households affected by land dispossession.
  • The study finds that respondents often don’t understand the restitution process as it is all communicated in English. A recommendation is to translate restitution documents into other languages, which would provide clarity to those in the program.

[Refer to presentation slides for specific details.]

Evaluation of the National Food and Nutrition Security Plan 2018-2023

Mr Mashamba took Members through the presentation. The study was finalized in October 2023.

Findings in summary

  • The Plan is highly relevant within the South African food system as it responds to an urgent need for food and nutrition security
  • The Plan is in line with the National Policy on Food and Nutrition Security and policy commitments in terms of the Sustainable Development Goals
  • However, the Plan is not legally binding and, as such, is not able to fulfil the constitutional imperative of the right to sufficient food through legislative measures.
  • The Plan lacks a full systems lens of FNS, with little regard for the informal food sector, food and nutrition security issues in urban environments, and local contextualization.
  • The institutional arrangement whereby departments are accountable for specific objectives and outcomes, detracts from a truly coordinated approach.
  • The Plan is seen as a top-down approach to food and nutrition security, which limits the extent to which it is tailored to local contexts and emerging needs.
  • Implementation of the Plan has made slow progress in areas of coordination and oversight structures; progress could not be tracked in other areas due to insufficient data.
  • The lack of progress on Strategic Objectives 1 and 6 has impeded coordination and the foundation of the Plan’s theory of change. Resulting in departments doing ‘business as usual’
  • Without SO1’s coordination mechanisms being operationalized, there is a lost opportunity to leverage efficiencies through interdepartmental collaboration and partnerships across the food system.
  • Inertia in the Office of the Deputy President to drive the Plan forward has resulted in the Plan not being prioritized, further affecting its implementation.
  • Political will and convening authority were consistently found to be necessary drivers of the provincial Plans, without which, implementation lags.
  • The achievement of the Plan’s objectives has been hampered by the lack of visibility of the Plan to stakeholders outside of government’s implementing departments and structures.
  • The resources for implementing the Plan (R86,8 million) are yet to be made available and the budgeting process did not make explicit how much of Departments’ equitable budgets would be part of the budget.
  • The opportunity to leverage efficiencies through data could not be harnessed without the rollout of the monitoring and evaluation system, necessary for learning and adjusting.
  • The indicators contained in the Plan at both the impact level and strategic objective level are not well aligned to the data that departments routinely collect nor those that are readily available in routinely collected national-level data sets.
  • As a result of the various issues noted above, which have slowed the Plan’s implementation, the status of food and nutrition security has remained largely unchanged, e.g. child stunting rate, low birth weight, no. of smallholder producers supplying food to institutional markets, number of children receiving one dose of Vitamin A every six months.


  • Commence the next iteration of the NFNSP, by updating and revising the current Plan with the below enhancements.
  • Integrate and leverage existing planning processes and reporting tools at various government levels, particularly provincial and local, to enhance accountability, monitoring, and collective efforts in addressing food and nutrition security.
  • Secure funding and human resources for at least the first year of the revised Plan’s implementation. This should be secured in advance of finalizing the next iteration of the Plan.
  • Utilise existing legislative mechanisms for better coordination and collaboration on FNS-related issues and activities.
  • Elevate FNS and its importance
  • Establish the M&E unit prior to the finalization of the revised Plan to ensure that the M&E systems are in place from the commencement of implementation of the Plan’s next iteration.
  • Strengthen collaboration by involving diverse stakeholders and sectors at all levels, while ensuring accountability and balance among stakeholder groups.

[Refer to presentation slides for specific details.]


Mr N Masipa (DA) was concerned the report was presented to the Committee at a time when it was busy with many other activities. It was an important study because it revealed six million people went to bed hungry and 62 million people were unemployed. One employment position attracted between 900 to 1 000 applicants.

Oversight visits in the North West showed evidence of people who were allocated a farm through the programme still living under challenging conditions, in dire poverty, and without post-settlement awards.

He asked what was happening with desktop research as secondary studies; what these studies were saying; and if it was land restitution which failed people, especially with post-settlement support and the failure to improve people’s lives. He agreed with the approach taken on food systems, saying better collaboration was needed in the country. Presently, it is uncoordinated and has contributed to major challenges. For example, there was a lot of food wastage, especially on farms.

Ms B Tshwete (ANC) highlighted reports with information which contradicted what the Committee was presented with and asked if the Department could share data on factors which contributed to breaking the cycle of poverty. She wanted to know the level of household and individual income resulting from land restitution.

Inkosi R Cebekhulu (IFP) pointed out that the Department gathered data on how people who took the monetary compensation instead of land were living but raised the concern that the money was not well-utilized. The beneficiaries were also unemployed and he considered these beneficiaries might in the future want to become established and demand land from the state to start small holding farms where the beneficiaries could grow produce to support the beneficiaries’ families. 

Ms Tshwete said one recommendation was to ensure the LRP was successful and policymakers should consider appropriate support for the social cohesion of the community. She asked how oversight was going to be put into place; and what the Department should do differently to have a greater impact on the individual living standards and the household conditions of people affected by land dispossession.

Ms T Mbabama (DA) said both presentations lacked detail and details were necessary to understand the situation.

She referred to Section 26 which dealt with restitution of property and equitable redress. It seemed most people chose cash over land. She asked the Department to clarify how many households or individuals actually chose financial compensation instead of the total number of beneficiaries who chose restoration of land.

She asked about the results of the studies completed. She wanted to know if the compensation amount, which was regarded as equitable redress, was in fact, just, fair, and appropriate, specifically considering the documented loss and hardship suffered during the land dispossessions. She also asked if the study engaged with people who received financial redress and wanted to know if these beneficiaries considered the amount received fair and equal in comparison to the value of the land; she wanted to know if the money assisted the households in getting out of poverty and how it was spent for example if it was invested in opening a business. The Department said restitution has been instrumental in breaking the cycle of poverty but Ms Mbabama asked for evidence of it, specifically asking for statistics, for example, if there were contrasting findings in an earlier research report. She referred to a 2013 book titled Livelihood written by Aliber et.al.

Concerning what happens after land reform, she said research in Limpopo showed poverty reduction benefits to be typically insignificant. She asked if previous studies were considered and if a comparative analysis was conducted, for example, if there was data on individual, household, or employment income, or if there was any other variable which showed as a result of restitution. She said the pre and post-transfer periods could be compared to get an idea of how restitution contributed to breaking the cycle of poverty.

She said the Committee wanted to know about the value of government’s investment in land reform and asked if a study was done on KESSI (sp). Further questions she had would be sent to the Department in writing.

Ms T Breedt (FF+) said she agreed with Ms Mbabama about the presentations not being clear on figures and statistics. Restitution must be part of poverty alleviation. She asked if there was proof and if it only applied to the beneficiaries who chose financial payouts or if it applied to beneficiaries who chose land as well.

On food and nutrition she said malnutrition increased in all the provinces over the last five years and she asked why this was happening and if a study was done on it.

Mr N Capa (ANC) asked about the preference of financial payouts over land restitution, questioning if it was sustainable to give people money and if this really alleviated poverty. He asked if there were instances where land was given to a certain group but another group contested it, claiming ownership, saying he experienced it and there was some evidence proving it. He also asked if there were sustainable developments relating to restitution where someone could say for certain a family would not fall back into poverty; asked about the role of traditional leaders relating to the land; and on food and nutrition, he wanted to understand the practical part of the implementation saying the Department of Social Development had an important role to play; and asked if there was infrastructure in place.

Dr M Tlhape (ANC) asked about the impact of LRP on individual households and its effect on poverty reduction as most research linked perpetual poverty to land reform.

Ms Mbabama said the evaluation was finalized in March 2023 and 12 months later, the DPME could not say if there was a management response by the Commission and the Department. The Department did not report if an improvement plan was submitted by the DPME and the Commission and if there was a plan, she asked for these details to be sent to the Committee. She also asked for the management plan and the improvement plan which were submitted by the Department and the Commission to DPME, to be sent. She asked for it because there was no proof of the six case studies.

The Chairperson said the study on restitution breaking the cycle of poverty began in 2017 and the results were only released after the COVID-19 pandemic in March 2023. He asked what the total cost of the study was and if it was COVID-19 which caused an extension of the research; what the additional costs were, if any; what broader message the study was sending to Parliament, members of the public, and all interested parties specifically because the majority of people opted for financial payouts to alleviate the conditions of poverty as this also contributed to psychological wellbeing.

Regarding land restitution, the report said the results were not satisfactory but did not focus on cases where land was awarded, focusing instead on equitable redress. The reports seemed to suggest this should be the focus because the benefits were negligible. He said financial compensation did not address the skewed land ownership patterns in the country. Financial compensation also did not address how policymakers should engage with non-satisfactory outcomes related to restitution. He found the report weak in making recommendations and asked the Committee to consider the psychological wellbeing of people.

The Committee dealt with District Six claimants and a petition from a number of Western Cape claimants, many of whom complained to the Committee about the outcome of restitution and poor workmanship on houses. Some elderly claimants were distressed because the claimants did not know what was happening with their respective claims and were disappointed with the progress. The Chairperson asked if the study engaged people who experienced disappointment and if it examined such claimants’ psychological state.

The District Six case only dealt with Phase One of the claims. There were still a number of outstanding pre-1998 claims and the Chairperson asked when Phases Two and Three would be implemented and how many of the claimants were left considering these phases. He wanted a list of all the claimants in Phase Two and Phase Three; he asked if land was identified for these phases; and he asked what this would cost.

On recommendations and further restitution he considered the evaluation and considered what should be done differently to achieve maximum results on government’s investment in land acquisition and equitable redress. There were very few specific recommendations on what should be done to improve the outcomes of land restitution. The Department said a conference would be held to map the way forward. The Chairperson said that if there were specific recommendations, the Department should share them with the Committee. He asked what DPME did when departments did not implement the recommendations from evaluations or monitoring reports saying almost 12 months after the report was released, the DPME still could not share insights on progress reports from the Department and the Commission on Restitution of Land Rights (CRLR).

He asked the DPME to share the reporting milestones agreed upon with the Department and the CRLR. The primary people stripped of land were traditional leaders across the country. The wars of land dispossession stripped many chieftaincies and kingdoms of land. He asked how much land had been restored to traditional leaders and if the land given back to traditional leaders brought about a change in the areas and in the development of the areas.


Mr Mashamba gave an overall response, saying Members’ comments would contribute to the upcoming conference which would include experts in the field, beneficiaries, and policy makers.

An evaluation of this nature would have a particular scope and its own limitations as well. The DPME contributes to the discourse considering a whole range of studies. Where contradictions are highlighted a form of synthesis must be employed to take into account other studies on land restitution. The ambit of the study did not consider sustainability beyond restitution. It drew its conclusions based on the comparison of a beneficiary group and a control group examining differences between the two. It may not have entertained other questions.

The Department only has guidelines for evaluation and it takes it in good faith the findings are implemented. There are ways to escalate the findings which will be discussed by the leadership of the custodian department and the Minister. There are guidelines and timeframes by which certain actions must be taken, but sometimes delays occur in the implementation of the findings.  

Ms Nomfundo Ntloko, Chief Land Claims Commissioner, Commission on Restitution of Land Rights (CRLR), said the study took place over five years as an impact evaluation study. The Commission has the report and must reply internally before it can reply to external stakeholders. Certain approvals are necessary to start planning the conference. The Commission first wanted to understand the study, communicate with professors, and prepare for the conference and would not necessarily resolve issues such as technocrats but would require policy adjustments after discussions and engagements. This is an international study and is one of the first of its kind. The Commission does not consider this to be short term but considers the impact over the lifetime of the Commission.

Ninety percent of beneficiaries chose equitable redress as compensation amounting to R23 billion and 3.8 million hectares of land was restored to claimants at a cost of R25 billion. It was important to communicate this comparison as it was not apples to apples. For example, a community in the North-West could receive ten thousand hectares of land and this could be a community of five or ten thousand households, versus a claim of a labour tenant in an urban area where there was an informal land settlement. The amount of hectares cannot be compared but there would be an informal land settlement, there would be customary rights, and the financial settlement is for the right to occupy versus the customary right. It would not be right to say this was equal to 90%. A response on the costing details will be sent to the Committee in writing.

Dr Malcolm Keswell, Associate Professor, School of Economics and Research Associate, South African Labour and Development Research Unit (SALDRU), said the study evolved over time. The work began in 2017 and the daily collection began in 2018. The work stopped when COVID-19 hit and resumed in 2022, completing in 2023. The Department collected data on a comparison group comprised of settled but unfinalized claims that were legally allocated to claimants, but the financial compensation had not yet been completed for the beneficiaries. When the work resumed in 2022, the focus was on collecting data on the beneficiaries awarded restitution.

Data collection was split into two different methodologies partly because the COVID-19 pandemic needed the Department to reconfigure the scope of what it was trying to collect. He referred to a prior reading of the way restitution was understood by academics and policymakers who studied the same question and studied forced removals. The beneficiaries were the treatment group and in the study, all the finalized claims over a ten-year period from 2013 to 2022 were considered. In other words, the Department drew from a decade of finalized claims as its framework. It started in 2013 because record-keeping prior to 2013 was not digitized and for each of the ten years, the Department drew a random sample of approximately ten percent of finalized claims. These were claims for large pieces of land and also very small family claims. The sample was drawn randomly and represented the population of finalized claims. The Department eventually drew samples of 5 555 and 3 100 individuals. No study on this has been done on this magnitude either in South Africa or elsewhere. The three thousand three hundred individuals were split between the beneficiary group (the treatment group) and the control group. The Department collected data telephonically after COVID-19 and had to be agile and adapt to focus on outcomes that restitution could have affected. It went from the control room data collection process to in-person data collection, where it spent half a day in a beneficiary household collecting lots of additional types of outcomes. The three types of areas the Department considered for outcomes focused on consumption, mental health, and cognition. In the study on poverty, household consumption was a key variable and income or nutritional intake could also be considered. Income and nutritional intake were more complicated to collect over the phone and consumption was the standard way to collect information on household welfare. Per capita household consumption for beneficiaries with awards of R200 000 had a slight drop in mental health risks. It was enough for a participant to be classified as being at risk of depression prior to the restitution award.

There are a number of ways to interpret the findings.

Robert Nkuna, Director-General (DG), DPME, said the Department’s Annual Performance Plan (APP) was considered and feedback was given on how to deal with issues raised by the Committee. He asked DPME to be allowed to return to the Committee before it would be time to consider APPs to show how it engaged with the Department. Expenditure analysis must be drawn from the budget allocation. The Department will also assess issues coming up which were not addressed during the current administration and which will be taken into the next administration.

Regarding the role of royal leadership, two development strategies came from the Department of Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs (COGTA). DPME considered whether the two strategies complement each other to avoid overlapping strategies. The strategies could be revised to consider the role of royal leaders.

The Chairperson thanked the officials and reminded DPME to reply to Members' questions in writing by close of business, Friday, 1 March 2024. The Committee would consider a follow-up meeting to analyze statistics as it was concerned with restitution making a real impact.

The meeting was adjourned.


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